Saturday, May 19, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for May 27, 2018 (Trinity - B)

Texts: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17

Call to Worship
God, who flung the stars into the night sky,
rejoices over all creation, especially us!
Come to us, Laughing God, and gladden
our hearts with your goodness and grace.
Christ, the Word of joy and life,
fills all creation with hope, especially us!
Come to us, Brother and Savior, and reclaim
our hearts as your own.
The Spirit, who breathes life into emptiness,
gives all creation the gift of peace, especially us!
Come to us, Spirit of Gentleness, and refresh us
with the dew of delight.
 
Prayer of the Day
You bind us to yourself
this day, God of seraphim and sinners.
You reach out to draw us ever closer,
that we might feel the brush
of your grace soft upon us,
that we might feel the healing touch
of your compassion resting gently within us.

You bind us to yourself
this day, Heir of Glory and Grace.
You keep us by your side,
that we might walk with you
through the streets of the kingdom,
bringing hope to the despairing,
offering consolation to the brokenhearted,
sharing love with those tossed aside by the world.

You bind us to yourself
this day, Spirit of Justice.
You fill our hearts with living water
that they might overflow to parched people,
you teach us how to give ourselves away,
so we might take on the burdens of others.
 
We bind ourselves to you this day,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we pray the words Jesus has taught us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Called to be God's people, we know how often we act as spoiled and petulant children. Yet, like a mother, God looks past our mistakes to see our hearts. Like a father, God lifts us to our feet to put us back on the path to life. Let us bring our prayers to the One who listens, and then forgives us with unceasing grace.
 
Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   In the mystery of creation, Imaginative God, you shaped beauty and goodness, yet we damage it by our selfishness and anger. In the mystery of life, Child of Hope, you became one of us, yet all too often we turn our back on you. In the mystery of peace, Breath of Life, you would gentle our natures, yet we cling tenaciously to our bitterness and hurt.
   In the mystery of grace, Holy God, you forgive us our sins, that we might embrace others. In the mystery of mercy, you touch our lips, that we might speak gently to others. In the mystery of hope, you claim us as family, sisters and brothers of the One who brought new life for all, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept
 
Assurance of Pardon
Here, in this moment and in this place, the Spirit of gentleness moves in our midst.  Mercy, hope and joy are the gifts of God to each and every one of us.
No longer lost, we have found our way home, surrounded by God's peace, by God's grace, by God's love. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven! Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
In grace, we bind ourselves to those who have no life;
in hope, we bind ourselves to those who live in despair;
in peace, we bind ourselves to all damaged by violence and hate;
in gratitude, we offer our gifts and bind ourselves to you, O God, in the work of justice, love, and wonder as you build your community in our world.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
God the Life, God the Hope, God the Peace be with you.
And also with you.
Children of the most Holy, open your hearts
to the One who has created you.
We open ourselves to the mystery
we know as the Community of God.
Heirs of salvation and joint heirs of grace,
give thanks to the One who loves you forever.
We lift our praise to God, crying out with all creation,
'Glory! Glory! Glory!'

You shattered the silence
of chaos, Majestic God,
as you spoke creation's language
with your voice of power and patience.
Your Word sang in the morning,
sending lambs skipping across
pastures lush with life,
young colts pranced through
valleys overflowing with wonder.
Your Spirit breathed life
into those shaped in your image,
filling our souls with joy and grace.
When we wandered far from you,
you remembered the soft touch
of our hands in yours,
and sent the prophets to call us home.
When we got in over our heads
in debt to sin and death,
Jesus came, to redeem our lives.
 
Therefore we lift our voices,
with those who worship you
in every time and place,
singing your glory forever and ever:

Holy, holy, holy, God of glory and grace.
All creation dances in joy before you.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who comes to bring us life.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
You are holy, God of all life,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Word of creation.
Filled with your glory,
he emptied himself to become one of us.
Knowing the heartache of loneliness,
he became the friend of all;
walking the streets beside us,
he became the guide we need;
recognizing the power of sin and death,
he followed them to Calvary,
leaving them behind in the empty grave,
as he was raised to new life.
 
So, here in this holy time of celebration,
here at the sacred feast prepared for us,
we would speak of that mystery we call faith:
 
We remember Christ's death;
we remember Christ's resurrection;
we remember Christ will come again in glory.
 
Here in this place of gentleness,
here at the Table of goodness and grace,
pour out your Spirit, Eternal Love,
upon the gifts of creation made holy for us,
and upon your children adopted into your heart
through the life and joy of your Child, Jesus.
In the broken bits of the bread,
may we be made whole once again,
so we might bring healing
to the deepest sufferings of our time.
In the taste of salvation's joy,
may we be renewed in our calling
to justice and righteousness,
so we might go forth to be companions
for all those who have lost their way.
 
And when, in the mystery of your heart,
it will come to pass that we are gathered,
with our sisters and brothers of every time and place,
around the feast prepared for us in eternity,
we will join our hands and hearts,
crying with one voice, 'holy, holy, holy!'
to you forever, God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Sending
God our Life sends us out in these moments.
We will go to bind ourselves to those who hunger,
to those who search for a home.
God our Hope sends us out in these moments.
We will go to bind ourselves to those who live in the shadows,
to those who long for companionship.
God our Peace sends us out in these moments.
We will go to bind ourselves to those who are forgotten,
to embrace those who are pushed aside by hate and anger.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Friday, May 11, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for May 20, 2018 (Pentecost - B)

Texts:  Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 104:24-35; Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Call to Worship
Come, Holy, Spirit, come.
Come and move in and through us.
Whispers of hope around the corner of despair;
shouts of joy at a graduation:
You are around us in every place.
The sweet breath of a baby,
the remembrances of the elderly:
You speak to us through every person.
Soft breezes on a summer’s day;
bitter winds through frozen trees:
You are with us in every season.
The gentle lullabies of a parent;
the birds twittering us awake:
You sing glad songs to us.
The sudden rush of newness
throwing open our sheltered fears;
the gale of justice breaking down
the walls of oppression:
You sweep us up in your commitment
to transform all lives, all places.
In every breath, in every song,
in every moment, in every tongue:
Come
   Dance
       Enflame
   Engulf
Transform us!

Prayer of the Day
You come like a dove,
Anointing God,
in every time, in every place,
in every language and way of communicating,
announcing through your Spirit
that we are your Beloved.

You come like a whirlwind,
Spirit’s Brother,
justice doing cartwheels before you,
grace tumbling over grace,
hope gusting open windows
of our shuttered hearts.

You come first as a whisper
and then a mighty shout,
Wind of God,
a waterfall of peace and hope
cascading down into a pool
where we can swim forever.

You come, God in Community,
wind, flame, voice, joy, life
for all you call your children
and so we pray as we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We say we want change, but prefer the comfort of what we have; we long for new life, yet turn our backs on those around us.  We could open our arms to others, but close them tight around our fears.  Let us confess our lives to our God, as we hope for the Holy Spirit to come and dance among us, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
   Your Spirit moves over the waters, Gracious God, but we prefer to splash in the puddles of temptation.  You would breathe life into us in every moment, but we hold our breath until we turn blue, wanting to get our way.  You would give us the words to bring hope to the despairing, to offer healing to the broken, and to share hope in the places of anger and violence, but we turn them in accusations towards those around us.
   In your mercy, forgive us, God of gusty grace.  May your Spirit sing in our hearts, so we may invite others to dance in joy with us.  May your Spirit be the still, small voice which silences the shouts of fear and worry all around us.  May your Spirit sweep us off our feet and into the arms of Jesus Christ, our Brother, our Savior, our Companion.  Amen.

 Silence is kept

 Assurance of Pardon
In every breath we take, there is the Spirit;
in every word we speak, there is the Spirit;
in every heart we touch, there is the Spirit;
in every person we welcome, there is the Spirit.
In forgiveness, we are given the words to speak; the courage to reach out to others; the open heart to offer others, the breath of life to share with those around us.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
These gifts are but the bare bones of who we are, and what we could offer.  So, move over them, filling them with muscles, and sinews, and breaths of our lives, so they might become living gifts of hope and grace to others.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of wind and flame be with you.
And also with you.
Throw open the shutters of your hearts, so God may enter.
We offer our hearts so God’s joy might dance over our lives.
Take deep breaths and sing your praises to our God.
We join all people and languages in praising the One who feeds us this day.

You whispered in the silence
and the Spirit tumbled forth,
   moving over water buoying whales,
   rattling treetops on tall mountains,
   cradling hawks gliding over meadows.
You shaped us from creation’s dusty floor,
and Spirit breathed life into us,
so we might follow you through life,
   but we sought sin’s narcissistic vision
   in death’s mirror and like it better.
Prophets, both old and young, women and men,
spoke of your dreams for us,
   but we preferred to shutter ourselves
   in the shadowed rooms of temptation.
So, with the Spirit breathing hope,
you sent your beloved Child to us
so we might once again have hope.

With those who dance with joy on this day,
with those who long for the fresh breath of grace,
we sing out songs of praise to you:

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of wind and flame.
All creation dances in the Spirit’s arms this day.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who is anointed by the Spirit.
Hosanna in the highest!

In the soft, warm breath
of a baby, you come
   to be one of us in every way.
In the gentle invitation
to followers, you whisper
   that all are welcome.
In the sobs
at the tomb of Lazarus, you echo
   our grief and loss.
In the anguished cry
on the cross, you join us
   on the last journey.
In the new life breathed
by the Spirit, you show us
   that death has no power,
   but love endures forever.

As we gather to celebrate this day,
as we remember the gifts Jesus shared,
we sing of that faith which is a mystery:

Christ died, his last breath stolen from him;
Christ was raised, the Spirit’s breath bringing new life;
Christ will come, breathing new grace and hope in our lives.

Here, where the bread and the cup wait,
breathe your Spirit upon these gifts.
Here, where the young long for visions,
and the old whisper their memories,
breathe your Spirit upon us, Holy God.
Let us not be content
simply to eat the bread,
but be strengthened by it
to blow through the fears among us,
   knocking them off their feet
   so they have to power.
Let us not just sip from grace’s cup,
but be enflamed by its passion for justice,
   to breathe new life into all
   who have lost that last bit of hope.

And when our journey has ended
and we are invited to with those
of every time and from every place,
breathe on us, very Breath of God,
so we may take in great gasps of grace,
to forever praise your name,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
God’s Breath of hope has torn open
the shutters of our hearts,
So that we may open them to all who long
for grace and life.
Justice is the strong wind poured into us
by the One who is Brother to the forgotten.
We will go into the streets of our neighborhoods
to serve our sisters and brothers.
A new community is being shaped by the Holy Spirit,
made up of those from every place, every tongue.
We will join hearts with those we meet,
we will learn songs of joy in new languages.

© 2018 Thom M. Shuman

Friday, May 04, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for May 13, 2018 (Easter 7 - B)

Texts: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19

Call to Worship
From comfortable pews,
from tricycle seats,
from easy chairs in front of TVs:
God gathers us in, giving us the
words with which to proclaim the gospel.
At kitchen sinks,
at laptops and blackboards,
at nursing stations:
Christ calls us to share
in serving all creation.

In communities gathered to pray,
in memories of those who served,
in families grilling in the backyard:
The Holy Spirit fills us with God's joy.

Prayer of the Day

We do not notice,
Holy God,
but you give us:
time,
   so we can think
   about your Word;
silence,
   so it may fill
   our emptiness;
wisdom,
   so we may know
   the path to walk.

We do not notice,
Risen Christ,
how you have not given
   just a piece of yourself,
   or a portion of your grace,
but all of who you are:
for us  -
and yet,
you regard US
as God's amazing gift
to you!

We do not notice,
Nourishing Spirit,
how you remove our fears,
   simply by sitting with us
   and holding our hearts;
or how you swirl around us,
   pulling us deeper and deeper
   into love, grace and peace,
until we find ourselves
rooted forever in the One
who watches over us forever.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as we have been taught,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
We gather as God's people, believing the promises fulfilled in Christ.  We do not need to confess out
of dread or fear, but in trust that God is faithful to forgive us and make us new.  Join me as we pray,
saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
How foolish we are, Calling God,
to think we could be happy
when we sit in seduction's comfortable seats,
    and scoff at your call to discipleship;
or run down the easy streets of sin,
    rather than following Jesus;
or idolize the celebrities and superstars,
    and not see you in those who wait on us
    in stores, restaurants, and sport arenas.

Forgive us, Author of Life.
Keep us from our silly selfishness
as we seek to become
    those branches children can climb on;
as we hope to provide shade
    for fellow pilgrims;
as we long to be continually nourished
    by the Living Water of Jesus Christ,
    our Lord and Savior.


Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
We are no longer blown about in the winds of the world, we are grounded, yesterday, today, tomorrow in God's forgiveness, hope and love.
Today, tomorrow, forever:  we can bear fresh fruit, sharing God's peace and joy with everyone we meet.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication
As we offer our gifts, remind us that they will be used to heal the broken often lost in the systems we have created, to feed those who don’t have the forms filled out correctly, and to bring hope to those who wander the shadowed alleys of despair.  This we pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of joy be with you.
And with you as well.
We are called to share the gospel with all we meet.
God fills our hearts, as well as our hands,
to bring healing and hope to the world.
Join in singing God’s praise as we gather around the Table.
As streams of joy and wonder pour into us,
so our songs of thanksgiving flood through all creation.

You stood among chaos, Ever Watchful God,
and called forth creation in all its beauty:
   rooting oak trees in the rich loam of your Word,
   watering seeds with the Spirit’s showers,
   using goodness to pave the paths
through the garden of hope and grace designed
for those you shaped in your image.
You called to us to pay close attention,
   but we chose to follow sin’s directions,
   making death our ultimate destination.
Prophets were sent to take the witness stand,
placing their hands on our hearts
to offer testimony concerning your hopes,
   but we continued to listen
   to temptations broken promises.
So Jesus came to show us how
   to walk the right paths,
   to do the right things,
   to be people of righteousness and justice.
 
With those who listen to your heart,
with those who stumble along the way,
we lift our praise to you:
 
Holy, holy, holy are you, God who gives us eternal life.
All creation joins in praising your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who sanctifies us.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
In your holiness, Tender God, we find life,
and in that blessing names Jesus, we find our Friend.
Seeing us sitting in chairs warmed by foolishness,
   he came to pull us to our feet,
   to offer us a seat handcrafted by his grace.
Noticing how we tended to listen only to seductive whispers,
   he came singing songs composed
   in the depths of your compassionate heart.
Watching our tendencies to drift through life
like dandelion seed heads floating on temptation,
   he came to plant us deep within your forgiveness,
   watering us with the spring showers of resurrection
   he brought with him on that first Easter morning.  
 
As we seek to walk the paths of righteousness,
as we long to bear witness to Jesus in our time,
we speak of that mystery called faith:
 
Dying, Jesus destroyed the power of death;
being raised to life, Jesus destroyed death’s sting;
coming for us, Jesus will guide us from death to eternity with God.
 
It is here at this Table,
where the Spirit is poured out
upon the gifts of the bread and the cup,
that we know of your love and grace.
Made whole by the brokenness of the bread,
we would go to bring words of hope
to all who have been told they are worthless,
to strengthen all weakened by grief and loss.
Watered by the goodness of the cup,
we would offer compassion
to everyone who has been hurt,
we would carry hope to all
whose hearts are emptied by despair.
 
And when we are gathered with our sisters and brothers
around your Feast of the Lamb in glory,
we will bring our songs of joy to you,
planted forever and ever in the depths of your heart,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Sending
From the comfort of this place,
to the discomfort of discipleship,
we will go to serve your people, Loving God.
Weeding community gardens which feed the hungry,
tutoring children after school,
we will go to wrap others in your grace, Jesus our Brother.
Listening to the stories of the ignored,
learning the language of our newest neighbors,
we will go to discover the truth you share in every moment, Spirit of Wisdom.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Friday, April 27, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for May 6, 2018 (Easter 6 - B)

Texts:  Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17

Call to Worship
We gather to worship the One
who crafted creation out of chaos,
our cries of joy join the anthems of the universe.
We gather to lift our praise
to the God who gives us voice,
we bring the songs which have echoed
in our hearts all week long.
We gather as the children of God,
our joy unbroken in God's love.
young and old, tone deaf and perfect-pitched
lift the new, new songs of faith.

Prayer of the Day
You raise your hand
and gently begin
the concerto of creation:
birds carry the melody
while stars keep the beat;
mountains dance in merriment
and little children clap
their hands with joy.
Love's Composer,
our new songs are lifted to you.

The old, old song
is made new in our hearts:
Christ is Risen!
Sing Alleluia!
You invite us to sing to a world
deafened by despair
and haunted by the tunes of fear.
Lord of the Dance,
our new songs are lifted to you.

Believing we cannot
carry a tune,
we hesitate to join in
the chorus of praise
sung by all creation.
So, you softly and gently
hum the melody in our hearts
until they burst with you,
raising a rousing chorus
of Amazing Grace.
Music-making Spirit,
our new songs are lifted to you.

Every song, old and new, is offered to you,
God in Community, Holy in One,
even as we lift the prayer Jesus teaches,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
Beautiful music, every note perfect, joining together in graceful harmony - this is what we imagine our lives to be. Yet our love is flat, our anger often sharp. Let us confess how we struggle to keep the measured beat of God's life-giving melody in our lives, even as we pray together saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
     Joy-giving God, we know who we are: people who hear the harmony of your grace and love in our souls, but sing off-key so often. We want to learn new songs, but those haunting tunes of our past mistakes run through our heads. We long to make a joyful noise to you, but the hurts inflicted on us, and the pain we have caused others, silence our voices.
     Sing to us, Conductor of Grace: sing of your forgiveness, your hope, your love for us. Strike a chord of humility in our hearts so our eyes could see all you have done for us; and in seeing, we might believe how much you love us; and in believing, we would echo that new song of hope and life composed through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
Listen to the melody of the good news: Christ is risen, bringing joy into the world. The One who was dead now lives, and wraps us in the delight of life forever with our God.
Now, our dirges have turned to joy;
our requiem has been rearranged as a hymn of hope;
our laments are lost in a cantata of praise.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Amen.
 
Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
Take our gifts, Composing God, and weave a song of healing for the broken, of nourishment for the hungry, of hope for those who despair, and peace for those torn by violence.  We sing our praises, as we offer our treasures, as well as our hearts, in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of creation choruses be with you!
And also with you!
God sings of hope and grace to your hearts, people of God!
We open them to be filled with the wonder of love.
God welcomes your songs of praise and joy.
We lift our hearts and voices in thanksgiving to the composer of all!
 
Maestro of the Universe:
the song began low and quiet,
barely disturbing chaos,
but then it slowly grew in tempo
as you beat out the rhythm of creation,
light, sharp and clear,
like the blast of a trumpet;
the hills and valleys bursting forth
like the beat of the tympani;
water running clear and free
like arpeggios on a piano.
You composed all this, and more,
for those created in your image,
and filled with the music of your heart.
We thought your tunes burdensome,
and turned our ears to the discords
of sin, temptation, and death.
You wrote new tunes,
to the same words of hope and promise,
sending the prophets to play them
in the streets where we wandered,
but we continued to dance
to the music only we could hear.
So you sent Jesus to us,
loving us enough to send us
the very One who could bring us home.

So, with those who have sung the song
of grace and hope in every time and place,
and with all who are just learning the words,
we lift our voices in praise to you:
 
Holy, holy, holy are you, God of beauty and joy.
All the ends of the earth sing praises to you.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Blessed is the One who comes to sing a new song.
Hosanna in the highest!
 
Holiness is the melody of who you are, Gentle God,
and blessed is the Song of your heart, Jesus Christ.
As he loved you, so he loved us:
keeping your word close in his heart,
he came singing of your gracious love;
abiding in your promises of hope,
he came bringing the harmony
of peace for our fragmented lives;
coming to judge the world with righteousness,
he laid down his life for his friends,
trusting and believing that the funeral dirges
they sang on that sad Friday,
would be rearranged as Easter cantatas
on that first morning of the new creation.
 
As we remember his life, death and resurrection,
as we seek to follow his command to love,
we sing of that mystery we call faith:
 
The Singer was not silenced by death;
the Singer was raised to new life;
the Singer will come to lead us home to God.
 
Pour out your joyful Spirit
upon the gifts of the bread and the cup
and on your children gathered at your feast.
We would open our hearts
to receive the bread of life,
not with silenced gratitude,
but with glad songs of joy.
We would empty ourselves
to be filled with the cup's compassion,
not with speechless thanks
but with shouts of praise.
As we learn the new song
of sacrifice on behalf of others,
we would go to serve the brokenhearted;
as we are given the instruments of praise,
we would turn them into the means
to transform the lives of the hungry,
the homeless, the forgotten, the outcast.
 
And when our music has ended,
and there is only the plainsong of life forever
in the tender embrace of your peace,
we will gather at the Table once again,
hands and hearts, brothers and sisters,
joining in the never-ending praise to you,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.
 
Sending
As God has loved us,
so we will go to love those despised by the world.
As Jesus has forgiven us,
we will go to forgive everyone who has hurt us
and to bring healing into their brokenness.
As the Spirit calls us ‘friends,’
so we will go to befriend the outcasts,
the lonely, and the lost of our society.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Liturgy w/communion for April 29, 2018 (Easter 5 - B)

Texts:  Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:25-31; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8

Call to Worship
Here in this place of worship,
with the congregation of the faithful,
we lay down our fears,
to boldly sing God’s praise.
Here in the vineyard of the Lord,
with our sisters and brothers in Christ,
grandparents tell stories of faith
to little ones sitting on their laps.
Here where God waits to serve us at the Table:
we shall be so filled with love
that we will run to serve others.
 
Prayer of the Day

Teach us to love one another
with that passion which comes
from your overflowing heart, Vine Grower,
so those around us will recognize
us as sisters and brothers,
bound together by your love
not divided by our fears.

Teach us to serve one another
with that compassion which comes
from our broken heart, Vine of our lives,
for the hungry are our brothers,
the immigrants are our sisters,
the homeless are our families.

Teach us include others
with that embracing welcome which comes
from your inviting heart, Fruit-bearing Spirit,
offering forgiveness to those who hurt us,
peace to all filled with hate,
hope to those burdened by despair.

Teach us to understand all we read and hear,
God in Community, Holy in One,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation

The seeds of grace, hope, joy, and love are planted deep with us, so they can bear fruit in our lives.  But we resist staying connected to the Vine, thinking we can flourish on our own.  Let us confess our sins, so we can once more feel God abiding deep within us.  Please join me as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
Mother of Compassion:
   called to be one body,
      we fragment ourselves into a million selfish pieces;
   your children of love,
      we insist on the right to despise our sisters and brothers;
   though your Perfect Love was broken for us,
      we are afraid to give of ourselves to the world.

Abide in us, Vine Grower.
Forgive us of our sins,
   so we may live boldly,
   love fearlessly,
   and proclaim unceasingly that Jesus Christ
      is our Lord and Savior.Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

Do you feel it – there, deep down in your hearts?  God’s love is alive, beating, breathing – in you!
Because God abides in us, we can live for others, allowing God’s love to bear fruit in us.  Thanks be to God, we are forgiven!  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offertory
From you comes every gift we need, every blessing we have.  May we not hoard them for ourselves, but offer them back to you, that the poor might be fed, the lonely befriended, and the despairing be filled with hope.  This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
May the God of searches be with you.

And also with you.
Bring your hearts to the One who loves you.
We offer them so God may plant fruit-bearing seeds in them.
Lift songs of praise to our God.
We will join our hearts and voices in proclaiming,
“God has done it!”

“Get up,” you cried to your Word and Spirit,
“and go down the wilderness road to chaos.”
And so they went,
   calling forth life out of nothingness,
   planting seeds that branched into vines,
   pouring clear water into earth’s hollows,
   crafting us in your imaginative image.
You showed all of this to us, with delight in your heart,
but we did not understand what we were seeing,
   and so chose death and sin
   to be our guides in this life.
Though we loved you last, you loved us first,
sending your prophets to declare all you had done,
   but we continued to abide
   in the tangled briars of temptation.
So you sent Jesus to us,
the One who would bear your fruit
of salvation and hope for all your children.
     
With those who seem to intuit your hearts,

with those seeking to understand your hopes,
we lift our songs of thanksgiving to you.

Holy, holy, holy are you, God of eunuchs and evangelists.
All creation bears fruit in glorifying you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes to abide in us.
Hosanna in the highest!

Love is your language of holiness, Branch weaving God,
And Jesus Christ, our Savior is the true Vine of your heart.
When we were wandering lost and alone,
trying to understand what we were doing,
   he crossed over glory to join us
   in this journey we know as life.
When we could do nothing
to prevent our bondage to sin,
   he came to set us free.
When we could not learn
how to make things right with you,
   he went down the wilderness road
   into the cold tomb of death,
so, as your raised him to new life,
he might proclaim to us,
“God has done it!”

As we seek to abide in Jesus,
as we long to bear fruit in the kingdom,
we speak of the mystery known as faith:

Christ died, that we might live through him;
Christ was raised, that he might live through you;
Christ will come, that all might live through eternity with you.

Abide in us at this Table,
as you pour out your Spirit
on the gifts of the bread and cup,
and on your children gathered in this place.
The broken bread reminds us
that you loved us first so that,
as we eat of it, we might put the needs
   of the hungry, the searching,
   the hurting, the lonely before our own.
The cup of grace nourishes us
so we can go over and join
   the oppressed and the outcasts,
   intertwining our branches with theirs,
   so we all become part
   of the Vine of justice and of hope.

Then, when we no longer sleep in death,
but are gathered around your Table
with our sisters and brothers of all time and places,
we will join in singing with one voice and heart,
“You have done it, God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.”

Sending
Go now, in the love of our God.
We will live for others through our God.
Go now, in the grace of Jesus.
We will forgive others, just as we have been forgiven.
Go now, in the community of the Spirit.
We will serve others in every need, in every place, in every heart.

© Thom M. Shuman